3 Tips to Improve Dealer Training Efforts

dealer-training-2Powersports dealer portals will likely become more consistent among lenders as competition continues to amp up, and as lenders look to match what other players are doing — which could also result in dealer training becoming an easier task, said David Goff, assistant vice president of marketing at Westlake Financial Services.

As more lenders enter the space, these systems will become more “normal” for dealers, which is “kind of like osmosis training,” he told Powersports Finance. Soon, dealers will start noticing similarities in the systems and say, “This lender does it that way, too,” or “This lender is similar in this aspect,” Goff said.

In the meantime, however, there are ways lenders can improve the dealer relationship. Here are three tips from Westlake’s Goff on how to improve dealer training efforts:

  1. It has to be a partnership.

“The biggest thing, when it comes to a lender-dealer relationship, is it needs to be a partnership, because ultimately if a dealer is looking to cram anything down the lender’s throats, then yes, lenders are going to pull out of the industry, and they will stop providing financing. The dealer has to be able to look out for areas that cause deals to go south or potential fraud, and lenders have to be able to work with dealers to make sure they [the lenders] are providing the right information, to help grow the dealership’s business.”

  1. Be open to learning.

“What does it take to make a partnership? Well, it takes a dealer that is open to learning, because each lender in the industry works differently. It’s being open to learning the lender’s processes, systems, and how they buy deals. And to be open to the fact that these are the processes the lender has in place, and being willing to sell in accordance with that.”

“On the lender side, it’s up to us to make sure we are communicating that stuff, hence why Westlake Financial Services has a team of 430 sales representatives. We put all our program guidelines on the portal, to make it more accessible. It’s important to make the system easier for them to use, so that way they can submit those deals. And that’s what the dealer center is: it allows them to manage their inventory, manage customers, and manage their deals from one place. We really try to give that to them, and make that partnership work both ways.”

  1. Educate why deal structures are the way they are.

“We have to stop thinking that we can put subprime customers into prime structures. This is a powersports unit; it is not a primary unit except for in a few states where you can ride all year long.”

“There are a lot less finance companies in powersports — than in auto finance, for example — and those that exist primarily only fund prime paper. Many dealers’ experience is kind of one-sided — it’s the prime side of that business. As new lender companies enter this market, it’s really that education of why a near-prime and subprime deal has to be structured, why the dealer has to collect different stipps, and that the process takes longer.”

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